Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) might eventually collapse the party if its aggrieved members are not pacified and those who left the party brought back. This was the view of Chief Godson Ezenagu, the House of Representatives candidate of the party during the 2015 general election.
Chief Ezenagu, who was once Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra State also said that the wife of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, and the former National Chairman of the party, Senator Victor Umeh, were important figures in APGA who must be fully involved in the affairs of the party if it would make headway.
In this interview, he spoke on other important issues.
You dumped the APGA for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) where you contested for the seat of Awka North and South Federal Constituency. Before then, you served in APGA government as Commissioner for Agriculture and some other positions. Why did you leave the party?
My story started in 2002/2003. That was when we came together to embrace APGA. Before then, the South East had been looking for a mouthpiece; an organization that will focus on the wellbeing of the Igbo. Since that time, major political parties have their own base. It’s either based in the North or in the South. We looked for something that will base in the South East that will help us air our views and fight at the national level. That was when APGA was formed and at the inception, we were all there together. It culminated after registration into my vying for the House of Representatives in 2007 to represent Awka North and South. We won that election but you know in those days they don’t really do election. Election will be going on outside, the result will be written inside in the quietness of one hotel or in the house of one of their members, the PDP. So, I vied and got the ticket of APGA and it went sour because of their writing result. So, I was given appointment as the Chairman of Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA) briefly for about one year. In 2009, I was appointed Commissioner for Agriculture, Anambra State. I left the place in 2012. I also contested but when it became obvious that I will win the in-house election, the then governor, Mr Peter Obi, asked me to step down for Awka indigene, former President-General of Awka town. He promised me that in the next election that we will be there together. I went back to the Ministry of Agriculture. Then, in 2015, Peter Obi wasn’t with us again. Crisis was already brewing in APGA and he left. In 2015, I was given the mandate. I became the candidate of APGA. We went to election and we won. Again, the PDP came to the collation centre with some soldiers to rewrite the figures. We challenged it in court. We were to win in court when the tribunal now said that our lawyer didn’t present the case well. We went to Appeal and it said so. My lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from Lagos State messed up the case. So, we lost even though we won the election. So, we continued. The same man from the PDP, Anayo Nnebe, that used army and police to upturn the election, when it was three months to the primaries of APGA, he came in and purchased the form from APGA. And as if the hell will be let loose, they still gave him the candidacy of APGA. It was a terrible thing. That same man that debarred us from going to the House of Representatives was the same man that came into APGA again. It was like somebody who attacked you outside and collected your car, and then, came into your house to park the car and be using the car. It was a terrible situation. That was why I got annoyed. I said wow, is this where I am building my hope; in APGA? So, people like Victor Oye did something like this? It’s unbelievable. Even after they have collected money from me? Victor Oye collected money from me and promised me that the ticket was mine already; that I should not vie with anybody. When they now brought Anayo Nnebe, he said that he doesn’t know anything about it; that it was the governor that did it. He said that it was the governor and Victor Umeh that organized with the church and they swept the power from him. So, I left APGA in protest and joined SDP. I contested in SDP. By the time I joined the SDP, it was two strange fellows in the same bed. I didn’t know that there was nothing like SDP in Anambra State. There could be SDP in Lagos, Abuja. In Anambra State, there is no party so called that is SDP. All the ward chairmen; all the ward officials were just people that were collected, brushed up and sampled. There was no structure called SDP. So, it became obvious that the election wouldn’t go. Even that day, those we call ward chairmen and those we call our representatives didn’t show up at the election. So, we ended up losing that election. So, that’s why I left APGA but APGA is mine. I mean, I am part of it. APGA is in my blood. We helped to nurture it. We helped to build it. By the time I came into APGA, there was no APGA in Awka North and South. I had to dig in and did everything including putting my resources, time and connection to make APGA the strongest party in Awka North and South. So, I am not completely out. I am waiting for when it will dawn on them to reorganize the party and those of us will really come back.
By saying you are not completely out, are you saying you’re still in APGA?
I will say that all my past belongs to APGA; all my family and everything belong to APGA. No matter where I go, I will still go back to APGA. APGA is naturally for the South East. So, if it is well organized, we will still go back there; not only me but all the people who were maltreated like myself. We will all go back there.
Is it then safe to say that you have dumped the SDP which platform you contested for House of Representatives?
I said that there was nothing like SDP in Anambra State. I have long left them when I noticed all these. It is like I am floating. I may go back to APGA very soon. I am still a card carrying member of APGA.
What would you make of the crisis rocking your party right now? Two men are laying claims to the national chairmanship position of APGA. Apart from that, we are aware that the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, and the wife of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, are having frictions over some party issues. What can you say about that?
Well, the crisis is almost everywhere but your ability to put yourself together and ward off the crisis is what is required. There will be challenges in whatever we do in this world but your ability to look at the challenges and do the right thing will limit your problems or challenges. In APGA for example, there is no way the wife of Ojukwu should be put aside. There is no way you will allow that woman to step aside because she is the symbol of the party. She represents the symbol and the soul of APGA. They are also having problems with Victor Umeh. Victor Umeh is the second symbol of APGA. You should not allow somebody like that to step aside. In fact, anyone that is not dealing with or including Ojukwu’s wife and Umeh is only killing APGA to a very large extent; to more than 75 percent. My opinion and advice is that Victor Oye has done the wrong thing. He has killed APGA more than anybody. Retaining him there is bringing APGA to its knees and downfall. Mark my words, it will come to pass. He has injured more than 60 percent of APGA faithful in Imo, Abia, Enugu and Anambra States. So, a man like that should step aside and let us get a fresh blood; somebody that will come and bring everybody together. I expect the governor to call a meeting for all APGA faithful including those who have entered the PDP or any other party; bring all of them together, so that we can dialogue and make reconciliations. If not, APGA is dying slowly. God forbid! Whoever that will make APGA die will regret it. Whoever that does that will regret his actions and posterity will never forgive such a person. So, there should be a coming together for peace and reconciliation and it’s the governor that can do it. And during such a meeting, the so-called National Chairman, if he is still the National Chairman, will step aside. After the meeting, the governor and the National Executive Council and the Board of Trustees will not decide what will be his position.
By 2021, governorship election will take place in Anambra State. Some persons are promoting the idea of zoning which is alien to our people. Anambra is one. Would you want a competent governor who comes from any senatorial zone but has the ability to develop Anambra or any person who must come from a particular zone whether competent or not?
Ndigbo United believes that zoning brings peace, tranquillity, togetherness and progress. If you throw the ticket open to all comers, you end up spending more. You also end up injuring the feelings of many. Ndigbo United believes in zoning. If you say that Anambra has not been zoning, you have not checked well. Let me tell you, during the time of Peter Obi, it was zoned to Anambra Central. During the time of this Obiano now, it was zoned to the North. I also joined in campaigning for it. It is the turn of Anambra South. Whichever way anybody looks at it, it is their turn. But I also believe that if they don’t have a credible candidate, that’s where other senatorial zones might come up. You know it is not written in the constitution. It is a gentleman’s agreement. We believe that if they don’t have a credible candidate, candidates from other zones might have an advantage. That’s what we mean.